East Texas Quarterly Magazine Spring 2014 - Page 11

answering nature’s call to multiply. The birds and bees of bee swarms is this: A crowded hive gets restless, usually sometime in spring or early summer. They prepare two or more queen cells which will hatch into a new queen in a few days. Meanwhile, the old queen and about half to three quarters of the bees pour out in a tornado roaring through the sky. They settle on a tree branch, bridge railing, car bumper, building wall, or just anything that suits them. Then scout bees head out looking for suitable housing. It might be a hollow tree, a 5 gallon bucket, BBQ pit, barrel, or even house walls and attics. Hollow trees in the woods used to house many feral colonies. But now, because of mites and diseases, you’d be hard pressed to find even one. Fortunately, there is a growing interestinkeepingbees in the country, suburbs, and even in the city .People are finding that with careful queen breeding, you can work with calm, disease resistant, productive bees. Several local beekeepers are always glad to help new people get started. And local organizations such as Pineywoods Beekeepers Association provide monthly programs, training videos, and an annual Bee School each spring. For more information about PBA or its spring Bee School, you can call Terry McFall at (409) 384-3626. particularly hot weather, or no nectar flow, the backyarder puts up his gear, goes to the house for an adult beverage, and waits for better conditions. The professional takes his licks and keeps going. He’s got 200 to 400 boxes to work that day, and the same tomorrow. No time to wait for better conditions. When that occasional sting does happen, what should you do? Well, first of all, scratch it out with a fingernail, pocket knife, hive tool, or credit card. Don’t pinch it out with your fingers, as this will only squeeze more poison into the sting site. With the stinger removed, you can dab a little vinegar, chewing tobacco, baking soda, or any of Mom’s suggestions. But many break out with vigorous cursing, using every four letter word known. A migrating honeybee swarm rests in a tree. A swarm may stay in the same location for a few hours to several weeks, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Wizzie Brown) You may have heard it said, “If bees didn’t have stingers, bee hives would be as popular as tomato plants.” And it’s true. Most everybody appreciates the bees, and loves the honey, but not too keen on the beekeeping. However, with proper equipment, clothes, and gentle natured bees, a sting can be a rarity. Once past the fear factor, you begin to actually enjoy the fascinating creatures, and their dogged determination to survive and prosper. You also become more aware of the plant world, bees interaction, and relationships all around us. Just as you see a vision of your future as a tree hugger, one of the little buggers zaps you on the neck and brings you back to the real world. But here’s where professional and amateurs part ways. When bees are cranky due to cloudy, rainy, 9